Health Dept. looks at nursing home

September 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The California Department of Public Health is studying a letter mailed by a mother to ABC7 News before she killed her disabled daughter in an Oakland nursing home and then turned the gun on herself. Officials say complaints in that letter could lead to the facility's license being revoked.

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The family of Diana and Yvette Harden are planning services for this weekend; they called the murder-suicide "the ultimate act of love."

But all Yvette Harden's talk about wanting to die was just a bluff, according to Oakland Springs Health Center neuropsychologist Dr. Sherman Weldon.

"She could get more attention onto herself by making statements that involved her longevity than in any other way," Weldon said.

But in a letter mailed the ABC7 News I-Team a day before the killings Yvette's mother Diana Harden wrote, "I can't let her go on like this. She has been bugging me to end it for two years."

Harden described abuse her daughter suffered by staff who were supposed to take care of her. Tuesday, Oakland Springs owner Tony Perez denied complaints of abuse.

Dan Noyes: "How about her being hosed down by the staff like a car, name calling like 'fat pig,' staff telling her that they hate taking care of her? Did that happen?"

Tony Perez : "I don't believe so."

Jennifer Rodriguez calls Diana and Yvette Harden her best friends. She met them at Oakland Springs after suffering a stroke and she says she suffered abuse herself and saw Yvette being abused.

"I'd be sitting outside her room and head them say that to her," Rodriguez said. "I heard, 'You're a fat pig, I don't want to deal with you, nobody else does either, that's the way it is, we have to and I don't like it,' like that, I mean really."

The I-Team examined Oakland Springs' case files for the past year at the state Department of Public Health. Among 32 substantiated complaints were allegations the staff failed to notify a doctor for four days that a resident had broken her finger, staff failed to investigate a resident's complaint that a nurse's aide hit him in the forehead, stomach, right shoulder and chest area, staff failed to keep a resident clean and free of feces and urine and that staff from a hospital found that man in filthy condition.

The state says they made sure Oakland Springs fixed the problems they found, but no fines were issued. Now, public health investigators are taking a closer look at the nursing home's history and the words of Diana Harden.

"But I also want to assure you that we will be focusing on all of the items in the letter that was sent to KGO-TV from Diana Harden," Department of Public Health spokesperson Kathleen Billingsley said.

BLOG: The Family in Nursing Home Killings
LINK: Read a poem Diana Harden wrote for her daughter Yvette
LINK: Read the letter Diana Harden sent to ABC7 News

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